Seattle: Grunge, coffee and heavy industry

One of the most northerly US cities, Seattle is a thriving mix of counterculture verve fuelled by the machinations of heavy industry.

Its hotels, bars and restaurants are of as high a standard as you would expect in any major US city but it its distinctive culture and history that make the city unique.

Seattle was founded in the 1850’s when people flocked to the north-east coast to make a quick buck in the logging trade. But boom soon turned to bust – as it has done many times throughout the city’s history – as the markets dropped like the trees themselves.

The next period of economic growth was the 1890s gold rush and this was followed by shipbuilding in the early 20th century. None of these industries managed to maintain their early promise, leading to hardship for many of the city’s residents through the generations.

However, recent years have seen Seattle become the home of Boeing’s commercial aircraft division and it has experienced a large growth in the tourist sector.

In the 1990s the city became synonymous with the grunge music scene. Characterised by hard guitar riffs, heavy drumming and grating vocals, grunge was the dominant alternative scene in the 1980s and gradually grew in popularity and influence into the 1990s.

Bands such as The Melvins, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam exemplified this hard rock sound but it was not until Nirvana came along at the end of the 1980s that Seattle’s music scene hit the big time.

The late Kurt Cobain, Nirvana’s lead singer and song writer, made the city his adopted home as he attempted to break into the music business. As a consequence Seattle is a liberal hotspot and has a strong alternative cultural scene and is home to large gay and lesbian communities.

As the home of Starbucks, you haven’t truly experienced what Seattle has to offer until you’ve sampled the city’s cappacinos, Americanos and macchiatos while listening to beat poetry or catching up on the day’s events.

Situated on the coast with a large port that used to form the crux of its economy, seafood, particularly crabs and other crustaceans are the city’s culinary specialities along with fresh fish from the Pacific Ocean.

Must see attractions include: the 600 foot tall Space Needle topped with a flying saucer styled viewing deck that dominates the skyline of the entire city; Pike’s Place Market, the US’ oldest market in continual use which sells some of the world’s best fresh fruit, fish and vegetables; and Capitol Hill, the hippy heartland that still encapsulates some of the 1960s hedonism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 − two =